Revitalizing Lent – Mid-Stream

A few weeks ago I was in a staff-meeting discussion about our Lenten ministry plans. After a pregnant pause, we looked at each other and someone said, “Last year went well, let’s just do the same thing.” We let out a collective sigh of relief and Lent, once again, became manageable. The pressure to innovate new ideas emptied out of the room as we stacked hands on what we know has worked in the past.

In the moment I was happy to wash-and-repeat our past successes. Yet, upon reflection, I now realize it’s better to challenge ourselves every year to reinvent at least some of our approach to celebrating this season.

A remember the parishioner who asked, “Why do we have to do Lent every year?” That question gave me pause, not because I didn’t know the theological answer, but because I realized I wasn’t inviting her to enter more deeply into the mystery that is the season of Lent. We do the same things every year.

Lent is a time for us to re-embrace the beauty of our baptism and entry into the Christian life. We’re called to journey with Christ to the cross and to resurrection. During this time, we challenge ourselves to identify what in our life must die, so that we might rise with Christ. Yet, sometimes we fall into stagant patterns, merely going through the motions.

So, in the spirit of my remorse, I’m inviting you to take a look at what you’re doing, even now, and see how you might inject innovation and renewal into your plans. Here are a few suggestions for in-flight course corrections:

  1. Re-Energize Lenten Meals – Whether your congregation offers soup suppers, fish fries, or meatless meals during Lent, take time to be innovative with these activities. Create intentionalality for these meals. Consider asking congregation members to offer reflections on their personal faith journey either before or after the meal. Begin with a time of prayer and end with a sending forth. Offer guides for table discussion during the meal.
  2. Re-Orient Penitential Practices – Many in our congregations choose to give up something during Lent. This practice is designed to help us empty ourselves of things that keep us from being present to God. So move their focus past what they’re giving up and invite them to think about how they can be intentionally present to God. What are practices, prayers, and/or activities they can consciously add to their daily or weekly routine that will deepen their relationship with God?
  3. Re-Discover the Power of the Easter Story – Lent prepares us to enter into the final moments of Christ’s life and to celebrate his resurrection. But we celebrate as well as we have prepared. Engage your community this year in a creative exploration of the last days of Christ (if you haven’t already, download Vibrant Faith’s new resource Lenten TalkCards—it’s perfect for this). Consider the connections that can be made between the Suffering Servant of Isaiah and Christ. Compare the passion accounts across the synoptic Gospels and contrast that with John’s narrative. Offer age-appropriate or intergenerational formation sessions exploring the last days of Christ through the eyes of his disciples. Host a Seder Meal.

These suggestions are designed to spur your own creativity and innovation as you are mid-stream in the Lenten Season. As we breathe new life into our Lenten practices, devotions, and activities, our celebration of Christ’s resurrection will be deeper and transformative. May the journey be fruitful and powerful for you and your congregation.

If you would like help as you explore what it means to revitalize Lent mid-stream in your church, reach out to connect with a Vibrant Faith Ministry Leadership Coach. Just CLICK HERE for more information. Coaching is an intentional process that moves you forward into the future you long for.  

Rosina Hendrickson is a member of Vibrant Faith’s Coaching Team. She’s the Training and Events Coordinator for Liturgy Training Publications and the Coordinator of Family Faith Formation at St. Thomas the Apostle, both in Chicago, Illinois. She also facilitates STEP courses through the University of Notre Dame, a platform for online adult formation.


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